Conditions for Citizenship

Some labels are harder to claim than others. I could not call myself a member of the U.S. military, for example, as that is a sharply defined organization, and one that I am demonstrably not a member of. However, thanks to the circumstances of my birth, I can call myself a citizen of the United States. But as I said in a certain introductory post a little while back, I would call myself a patriot. And I would think that should be far more important than where I was born.

Identity is in many ways something that you define yourself. Yet somehow, we've decided that paperwork should take precedence. That no matter how much of a patriot I (or more importantly, anyone else) may be, it's the passport that matters, not the spirit. No matter how much of a "good citizen" any one person is, if they didn't enter the country legally, they can't ever become one.

I think that might just be an injustice. If only because of the actual people that it simply vanishes. There's a story that was just published today on that, come to think of it. (Hat tip to Shakesville for letting me know about it.) The entire story's worth reading, but out of that entire saga, there's one thing I feel I need to really highlight here (emphasis mine):
I was paying state and federal taxes, but I was using an invalid Social Security card and writing false information on my employment forms. But that seemed better than depending on my grandparents or on Pat, Rich and Jim — or returning to a country I barely remembered. I convinced myself all would be O.K. if I lived up to the qualities of a “citizen”: hard work, self-reliance, love of my country.
It'd be nice if he was right, I think. But apparently, it doesn't matter how much you love your country. Perhaps it should.

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